Father-to-be Chiu opts out

EASTERN defender Chiu Chun-ming has withdrawn from the Hongkong League squad for the Lunar New Year Carlsberg Cup on January 23 and 26.

Chiu has told Hongkong manager Tang Kar-hung he wants to be with his wife who is expecting a baby within the next few weeks.

Tang said: ''Chiu is a good defender but his right-back position should go to the capable Yau Kin-wai.'' Chiu's withdrawal brings the squad back to 16 after Eastern skipper and Hongkong Interport captain Lee Kin-wo was called up on Tuesday.

Lee was left out of the original 16 because of a dispute over selection between rival club managers Peter Leung of Eastern and Tang of Kui Tan.

Meanwhile, First Division newcomers Kitchee will be aiming to overhaul leaders Eastern and Michelotti when they take on Sing Tao in tonight's league match at Mongkok Stadium.

Kitchee, who are third in the standings on 13 points, will head the table by one point if they win, although they will have played two games more than Eastern, who have won all their five matches.

Last season's Second Division champions have lost just one league game this season while recording four wins and a draw.